Earlier this year I was researching National Parks and came across a map of the National Trails. Though I’d heard of the Appalachian Trail, and more recently had become aware of the Pacific Crest trail, I didn’t realize there was a network of several trails that wound around the country. As I dove into researching their terrains and paths, I found trail journals of hikers who had traversed these paths. Thus began my infatuation with backpacking. I thought I should share some of these great blogs with you, since they really are awesome and so inspiring.
This was the blog that really started it for me. The Pacific Northwest trail is a newly designated National trail (only designated in 2009, though it was established back in the 1970’s) and has significantly less thru-hikers than more popular trails like the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest trail. I found Katherine’s blog and gobbled it up all in one night from start to finish. She hiked the trail solo in 2013 in just over two months. I loved reading about her journey and it really opened my eyes to the troubles and joys of backpacking.
I am currently obsessing* over Carrot’s journal of her hike on the PCT. I found her blog right before she started on the trail this year and was excited to travel along with her on her journey. This is her second year in a row hiking on the PCT and her writing is witty, fun and also earnest about the struggles of her expedition. You can go back and read about her hike from last year or even about some of her travels on freight trains. As of this posting she’s nearly 1000 miles into the trail.
*Sincerely obsessing, not just blogger hyperbole.
Myla and Jeff are hiking the Continental Divide trail this year after meeting last year on the PCT. They are true ultra light hikers and it’s interesting to read about their gear choices. Mostly I just enjoy following along reading about the different terrain of the CDT.
I found Steven’s (aka Twinkle) blog through Carrot Quinn, as they are in a small group of hikers traveling together. He has some great in depth writing about the trail and some lovely photos as well.
Shawn and I watch a lot of hiking and gear videos and they’re usually pretty terrible, but I really liked this one about the CDT.
Do you have any favorite hiking blogs?
I had these photos squirreled away from our trip to Yosemite in February. My friend, Erin, has requested more Sequoias so this post is dedicated to her.
Maripsoa Grove is the largest grove of giant Sequoias in Yosemite National Park. We were fortunate enough to visit when the road to the grove was open, but shuttles were not yet running through the woods themselves. We walked the various trails snaking through the trees up to the fallen tunnel tree at the far end of the grove. A tunnel was cut into the base of this tree in 1881 so that tourists could drive horse drawn carriages (then eventually cars) though it. Because of the massive hole in its base, the tree fell in 1969, helping to spark more conservation efforts for the Sequoias.
It’s hard, even in their presence to comprehend the size and age of these massive trees. They have survived thousands of years and will outlive all of us. In theory of course. Numerous giant sequoias were cut down in the late 19th century before they were protected. In some areas, like where we camped last year, you can climb up on the stumps of the long ago felled trees. At times it seems only when they are lost can we comprehend what they were. It would be easy to say that they are now safe, but even with the national park protection, humans have a way of destroying things. In April someone set fire to the Fallen Goliath Tree in King’s Canyon. It’s not known whether it was intentional started, but now only charred pieces of the ancient tree remain. This is just one event of many of incidents of humans continuing to destroy that which should be preserved. It’s too sad to list more.
The hike itself was not terribly strenuous but I found myself fairly depleted after an uphill stretch in the exposed sun. I watched some kids bound ahead of me on the trail and I felt so slow. Though I’m building strength and tolerance, altitude of any sort does not agree with me. I suppose that is what I get for living near sea level my entire life. We stopped and ate sandwiches on the steps of the then closed museum. Nearby was the only snow we saw on the trip, just enough for someone to make a small snow man. We hiked back on a different route, passing the faithful couple, two giant sequoias that have grown into each other as they sometimes do.
In the past few months we’ve tried to do as much hiking and outdoor adventures as we can but I think this year is going to be landmark summer for excursions. As the warm weather rolls in I find myself longing to be outdoors even more, dreaming of walking for miles amidst the trees, along creeks or up mountains (well maybe just some hills). I know this blog will eventually circle back to more creative things but for now it seems like it should have a subtitle of something like “Alix in nature.” Hope you don’t mind.
Last weekend we took a little trek up to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks for a little backpacking adventure along with Kyle and our friends Jenn and Scott. It was the first time backpacking for all of us besides Shawn, so it wasn’t anything terribly strenuous, just far enough that we could get away from everyone else and test out our gear. We started out with a hike up to Moro Rock to enjoy the views of the valley and the surrounding mountain ranges. From the top we could even see the place we planned to hike to later. So many wildflowers were in bloom, even growing in the crevices of the rocky ascent.
We hiked down into Redwood Canyon late in the afternoon. It was like being in a magical wonderland, hiking between massive trees. Even with the physical exertion of climbing with a giant backpack, I loved the whole thing. I love to go on adventures but I have to admit that I have a lot of fears (fear of getting elevation sickness, fears my car getting stuck on a dirt road, fears of getting dehydrated and blacking out, all fears that have happened to me) that sometimes inhibit me from doing what I want to be doing. This trip I was so excited I decided that I could not let any of these things get in the way of my fun. Miraculously they didn’t and all went swimmingly.
We found a place to camp just as the sun was setting. As we erected our tents, a sound rang through the trees, louder than anything we had heard throughout the day. It took a long while for us to realize it was an owl and not anything more ominious. It was dark by the time we had set up our tents and got around to eating. I had a leftover burrito that was slightly heated, while the rest of the gang had more exciting camp meals. I realized that it’s best for me to keep my meals simple and plan to do more rehydrated foods on future trips. All our food was stored in bear cannisters overnight and remained untouched in the morning. We did catch a look at a young bear the next day as we were leaving the park.
Since it wasn’t too long of a hike, and because it’s the only one we have, we brought our massive tent. It’s much more suited to car camping but wasn’t so terrible to carry. Overall, I wasn’t bothered by the weight of my pack, which was not particularly light. I did have some knee problems that started when I was walking down the stairs at Moro rock, sans backpack. I’m confident though that with some strenght training it won’t continue to be an issue. Kyle had by far the largest and heaviest pack as he was stuck carrying a zero degree sleeping bag, a full tent and the bear cannister for himself, Jenn and Scott to share. I’m aiming to lighten my load in the future but don’t expect that I’ll be an ultralight backpacker in the forseeable future. For breakfast, I had some super delicious oatmeal (no joke, I really like oatmeal) and Shawn made his signature tofu scramble.
One of my favorite parts of the whole experience, besides being alone in nature, was feeling totally self sufficient. We had more food than we needed, a filter for water and shelter. I’m sure if something had gone wrong it would be terrifying on some level but I felt more comfortable than I sometimes do on day hikes. I also accepted that I will probably always look pretty dorky as a backpacker but comfort really is more important to me than style. Mostly I can’t wait to go on more backpacking trips!
Do you remember at the end of last year I shot a short film? I finished the film in March and now I have some exciting news to share.
Forgiveness has won the award for Best Short Film at the Amsterdam Film Festival. It was such a surprise to find out, particularly since I have never won any kind of award for something I’ve made.
On the heels of that, I found out that Forgiveness will also be playing at the Edinburgh Short Film Festival. I’m thrilled to have the film included in the program. To add another level of excitement, Shawn’s film Ashes of a Cowboy will be playing at the festival as well.
If you happen to be in Edinburgh on June 8th you can see Forgiveness for yourself. Ashes of a Cowboy will be playing on June 14th.
Making films, as with any art, can be a frustrating and isolating endeavor. It feels like such a relief to have some positive news to share about projects. I hope to have more in the future.
We visited the California Poppy Reserve this past weekend and spent the day hiking around the place. It’s lucky to have blooms this year as apparently there haven’t been for the past two seasons. Despite the drought, a little rain in recent months means there were poppies everywhere. It was stunning.
There are around five miles of trails and we walked around in the gusty winds all afternoon. Besides seeing the flowers, I wanted to take my new backpack on a test run. Have I mentioned I’ve recently become obsessed with the idea of backpacking? It’s strange because, though I’ve always enjoyed camping, backpacking has never really caught my attention. These days though I can’t get enough of reading about various backpacking adventures. I’m glad to say that the backpack was quite comfortable so far. I can’t wait till we get to go on our first backpacking excursion. Luckily, we’re heading into the perfect season for it. It’s difficult to stay indoors these days, now that there is more light in the sky and the weather is warmer.
Shawn made a video of our trip too. You can see a little of how windy it was and a rattlesnake we saw on the trail.